Recent men’s room allegations involving elected officials such as Florida’s Bob Allen and Idaho Senator Larry Craig will do more for the cause of gay rights than Bloody Sunday at Selma, Alabama, with state troopers pummeling peaceful college students, did for Negro voting rights. Until very recently, for many, the face of the American homosexual (particularly male- for some reason lesbianism doesn’t touch the same emotional buttons) was that of a perverted, aberrant individual, often typecast as a pedophile one would not want around schoolchildren. Your hairstylist. Your interior decorator. Your figure skater. In the Black community, the church choir director. Incidents concerning former Rep. Mark Foley, Catholic priests, Rev. Ted Haggard, New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey and others, have shown us that sexual preference is not a monolithic definition of personality. It does not precludee fatherhood (or motherhood), public standing, athleticism, political conversvatism, or even religious devotion. When former NBA center John Amaechi, WNBA superstar and mom Sheryl Swoopes, and former “Doogie Howser, M.D.” star Neal Patrick Harris came “out”, we who didn’t already know, learned that their is no such thing as “the gay lifestyle”, that pedophilia and child molestation are not appendages of same-sex attraction, and that homosexuality has no face.
Fear is the root of bigotry. Though it was not the intent of Allen, Foley and Craig to show Americans that “we are just like you in virtually every way but one”, the result is the same. As many learned not to typify Black people after being exposed to all manner of Blacks, such will be the case with sexual preference. Eventually, some will learn that sexual preferences are not extremes, there are degrees within. That though homosexuality is rare in the populous, rarity and immorality are not synonymous (see “lefthandedness” and “redheads”). That there are no “gay professions”. Lance Bass, ex of the boy band ‘N Sync, is gay. What is more All-American that a boy band?
The Craig case does so much it difficult to even quantify the ripple effect. Imagine the discussion surrounding the Wyoming-set film “Brokeback Mountain”, its Academy Award potential, and the conservative talk show hosts, who, when asked if they had even seen it, stated, “I’m not interested in that kind of thing…”, taking place after the Craig bust? And henceforth, when a legislator voices a strong advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act, he (and they will overwhelmingly be “he’s” and not she’s) will be viewed suspiciously. The old “…doth protest too much…” conundrum. The GOP will not have their trump card of family values to wave at Sen. Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign, since it is her marriage that is a paragon of sanctity and forgiveness, not many of theirs. Marriage will still be an election issue- Bob Allen and Larry Craig have wives, as does Haggard. Had Rep. Harold Ford been married in 2006, he might be a member of the U.S. Senate. Voters still care about a politicians’ values. But after Craig, those who claim they are out to protect marriage will not always be trusted as being faithful, or even completely heterosexual in theirs. Just as Ford may have avoided the blonde Playboy smear had he been married, many Idaho voters would not have chosen Craig had they known he is gay.
So while Rev. Ted Haggard seeks a “cure” for his attraction to men, and Senator Craig and Rep. Allen assert that their bathroom moves were misinterpreted by undercover cops, America is slowly seeing that farmer, fisherman, cowboy, athlete, teen idol or spiritual leader, homosexuals are us, their attractions are natural, are no more a matter of “choice” than heterosexual attractions or attraction to tall people, and the boogeyman/freak approach to human sexuality is inappropriate. If all those things be the case, homosexuals should be no more denied a marriage license that Britney Spears or Jennifer Lopez, and are no threat to the “institution”. When our attitudes mature, and catch up with science, male conservative preachers and legislators will no longer have to sneak around to satisfy their desires, as many Black Americans once sought to “pass” for white.